Class of 1961 Spring 2017 Letter

Spring 2017                               

Dear Members of the Class of 1961,

Sometime this past year a quote appeared at the beginning of an editorial from Sojourners Magazine: HOPE IS A DECISION! I've thought often about the quote this past year and have asked myself if I was making a decision to hope, or just waiting for a sign from some event or someone. Hope waiting is passive and at Advent we hear much about waiting. We can learn from waiting; however, there is power in DECIDING TO HOPE. It leads us to ACTION.

Spring is here, a hopeful season. Flowers, trees, and plants start growing, and we all surge forward. But if the crops fail, what becomes of our hope? There are risks in deciding for hope. We can't control where a decision will take us. Perhaps we'll be criticized or our actions thought foolish. As we talk with classmates, we hear of the many ways you are active for good. Those who dared to create and grow Luther College from 1861 decided to hope.

Lest you think I'm talking about works instead of grace…I'm not. Hope and action come in response to the grace we are given. And joining hands—and our gifts—strengthens all as we make the decision to HOPE.

You probably heard the news about our beloved Weston Noble ’43, who died Dec. 21, 2016. A celebration of his life will be held on campus at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Center for Faith and Life, Main Hall. More details about Weston’s life can be found in the Winter 2017 issue of the Luther Alumni Magazine and on Luther’s website.

While we’re on the subject of music, it was announced in January that Andrew Last ’97, assistant professor of music and conductor of Collegiate Chorale and Norsemen, has been appointed to the post of Nordic Choir conductor and director of choral activities at Luther. He will begin his new duties at the beginning of the 2017 fall semester.

You can read more about Andrew Last on Luther’s website, and you can find lots more as well, including students’ J-term course blogs and other course blogs, Alumni Office travel tours and events, links to alumni profiles, comparisons and rankings, life after Luther, etc. It’s easy to find web content that interests you at by clicking the search button next to the “info for” drop-down box at the top right of the page. Type in the word “news,” click on the search button, and you’ll get all of the Luther news, for your reading pleasure.

Attached to this letter is the list of all who made gifts to Luther in calendar year 2016. Thank you for your generosity! Did you know you can sign up for monthly giving to Luther? It’s a great way to ensure a gift is made each year. Those who make a gift at any level for 3 or more consecutive years become members of Luther’s Loyalty Society. Visit loyalty/ for more details. Regular giving to Luther is a great habit to cultivate!

Do you have memories of past Luther experiences you’d like to share? I’m sure our classmates would enjoy reading about them; send me your stories!

Love to all,

Karen Gulsvig Johnson
[email protected]

Your gift. Put to work, right away, where it is needed most.

Last year more than 10,000 alumni, family, and friends supported Luther’s Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $100,000. Your gift makes a difference for each and every student at Luther, and we are grateful for your support.


This list includes all gifts received January 1, 2016, to December 31, 2016. Making a gift each and every year is an investment in the lives of Luther students and a show of support for the Luther College community. Thank you for your support of Luther College through your giving.

Irvin Aal
Karin (Wolding) Abel
Robert Anderson
Bill Bailey
Vern Barlow
Alvin Berg
Sandra (Sundberg) Bergman
Maryellen (Amundson) Boe
Dagny (Hexom) Boebel
Carol Borson
John Bostrom
John Braaten
Michael Brunsvold
R. Eric Carlson
Shirley (Udstuen) Carpenter
Jack Christensen
Ronald Christian
Laurene (Olson) Davidson
Leilani (Hovden) De Muth
Gregory Dotseth
Phyllis Engebretson
Marilyn (Ulven) Erdahl
Audrey (Pederson) Erdman
Daryl Erdman
Jerry Erickson
Lois (Wiebke) Erickson
Karen (Kiland) Erlander
Barbara (Sanden) Fett
Shirley (Lilleskov) Fjoslien
Paul Forde
Thomas Foster
†Ronald Fretheim
DeLyle Fure
Robert Gerber
James Gesme
Berner Gorden
Naomi (Borreson) Hanson
Greggory Harmon
Dianne (Foss) Hartzell
Rodney Hatle
Garnet (Johnson) Haugen
Thomas Haugen
Jane (Hurd) Helgeson
Paul Hexom
Gloria (Kach) Hove
Andrea (Bakken) James
Carol (Rasmussen) James
Charles Johnson
Karen (Gulsvig) Johnson
Shirley (Stark) Jorde
Wayne Kivell
Judith (Hestenes) Knutson
Bonna (Anderson) Krafts
James Kroneman
June (Olson) Krull-Bonderman
Joseph Larson
Karen (Mostrom) Larson
Richard Larson
Geraldine (Freeman) Lee
Franklin Lee
Ronald Lee
Frank Liston
Dagny Lund
John Mathre
Janet (Amundson) Moen
Loren Moen
Dale Mundt
Barbara (Kumm) Nelson
Judith (Haugen) Nelson
Alan Nordhem
LaMay (Sexe) Nybroten
Elaine (Redalen) Olson
Gary Olson
Janice (Gulbranson) Olson
Rosaaen (Skifton) Olson
Gene Olstad
Anita (Haugen) Omodt
Norman Omodt
Glen Orr
Karen (Geadelmann) Page
Marjorie (Myrah) Parkos
Jonathan Preus
Douglas Reasa
James Ringlien
Audrey (Wogen) Rober
Deanna (Blunt) Roen
Robert Rosedahl
Ann (Knutson) Rotto
Alma Rotto-Morgan
Richard Rud
Frederick Schneider
Jack Schultz
James Scott
Daniel Seidelmann
Barbara (Coupanger) Servatka
Richard Simmering
Janet Skaar
Ruth (Steenson) Skaar
David Smedstad
Cynthia (Vasey) Smith
Paul Solberg
LaVonne (Leng) Solomonson
Sandra (Olson) Sorlien
Judith (Aandahl) Stelzig
Ronald Sundberg
Gene Svebakken
David Swenson
Owen Thorson
Anita (Buss) Turck
Helen (Dregne) Urban
Dean Vigeland
Robert Von Haden
Jane (Baker) Wallestad
Darlene (Johnson) Wheeler
Carolyn (Forde) White
Anita (Thurin) Wildermuth
Barbara (Gumz) Willis
Darlene (Peters) Wold
David Wold
Norbert Wurtzel

Every attempt has been made to ensure the accuracy of this list. If an error has been made, please accept our apology and contact the Luther Development Office at 800-225-8664, or email [email protected]. (deceased)


Ronald Fretheim of Decorah died Sept. 20, 2016, at age 77, after a four-month battle with ALS. Born in Decorah, he grew up on the family farm west of Decorah and from an early age loved to read, sing, and play organized baseball with the town kids. After graduating from Decorah High School with the class of 1957, where he participated in football, wrestling, and baseball and sang in the choir, Ron enrolled at Luther, where he majored in math and accounting. He excelled in wrestling and was nationally ranked, and won a record number of dual meets. Ron also played football all four years and was active in student life, joining other male students in forming a new “brotherhood”—Pi Sigma Omicron—and supporting the effort to allow dancing on campus. He received many honors while at Luther, including Athlete of the Year his senior year. After his Luther graduation Ron intended to enter graduate school at the University of Iowa, in accounting, but changed his mind about his future and decided to enter Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and become a Lutheran minister. He married Karen Paulson ’63 on June 1, 1963, at Madison Lutheran Church, in rural Decorah, and they moved to Portland, Ore., where Ron interned at Portsmouth Trinity Lutheran. In 1965 he graduated from Luther Seminary and was ordained at Madison Lutheran Church. Ron served four parishes during his career: Grace Lutheran, Elmwood Park, Ill.; Hope Lutheran, Everly, Iowa; Peace Lutheran, Wayzata/Plymouth, Minn.; and Bethel Lutheran, Madison, Wis. He enjoyed leading youth groups on mountain climbs, canoe trips, and convention trips, and worked to lead lay people into church leadership and a deeper faith. Ron and Karen retired to Decorah in 2002 to enjoy family, Luther College, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, the good people of Decorah, and his beloved golf! He and Karen have spent winters in Arizona, and they cherish the friendships made there. Ron is survived by his wife, Karen (Paulson) Fretheim ’63; two daughters, Kristin (Fretheim) Hanneman ’89 (Steve) and Anne Fretheim ’91; two granddaughters; two brothers, Leland Fretheim ’59 (Harriet) and Marlin Fretheim ’71 (Janet); and nieces, nephews, and many cousins. Memorials may be given to Luther College.

William “Bill” Roach of Mendota Heights, Minn., formerly of Austin, Minn., died Nov. 4, 2016, at age 79. A native of Austin, he grew up as an Army kid and in a Hormel family, playing high school football and baseball and going to state playoffs. While at Luther, Bill majored in economics and history, was a linebacker for the Norse, and sang in choir. He also served in the Army reserves. Bill met his future wife, Kathy, in Austin. They married and moved to Boise, where their sons were born, and they adopted their dog, Trouble. The family returned to Minnesota, settling in Mendota Heights for 43 years. Bill's career in sales meant traveling around the Twin Cities, Duluth, and St. Cloud, which he did with his excellent navigational skills. He coached youth baseball and football, helped with Meals on Wheels, and was active at Hennepin United Methodist and Koinonia Camp. Bill loved music and the performing arts, attending or ushering at Ordway and other theaters. With Kathy, he created beautiful gardens and hosted wonderful dinner parties and reveled in his grandchildren's concerts and activities. Bill is survived by his wife of 53 years, Kathryn; three sons: Will (Lisa Schwartz) Roach, Wally Roach ’86 (Nancy), and Kevin Roach (Mona); five grandchildren; brother, Chuck (Ginny) Kathleen Roach; and many dear friends, nieces, and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers, Rob and David (Mary); and mother- and father-in-law.

Paul Sorlien of Underwood, Iowa, died Aug. 29, 2016, at age 81. Born in Minot, N.D., to Pastor S.O. Sorlien ’22 and his wife, Selma Sorlien, he graduated from Albert Lea (Minn.) High School in 1953. From 1953-57, Paul served in the U.S. Navy, and after his military service he enrolled at Luther, where he majored in English. After his Luther graduation he attended Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, graduating in 1965. Paul’s ordination took place at Rock Creek Lutheran Church, rural Osage, on Dec. 5, 1965. He married Sandra Olson ’61 on Sept. 1, 1959, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Boomer Township, Neola. Paul served many parishes: St. John Lutheran Church, Daykin, Neb., (1965-69); First Lutheran Church of Butterfield, Minn., and Long Lake Lutheran Church of rural St. James, Minn., (1969-72); and Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, Bird Island, Minn., (1972 to 1997). After retirement he moved to Underwood but returned to ELCA Lutheran ministry to serve Ebenezer Lutheran Church, rural Audubon, from 2001-11, before retiring a second time. Paul served on many church boards and committees of the former American Lutheran Church (ALC) as well as the ELCA. Active in the education of children and adults, he helped to write curriculum for the former ALC and Augsburg Publishing House and also served on school boards in Daykin, Neb., and Bird Island, Minn. Paul’s volunteer work included making promotional videos for Sunday school, vacation Bible school, the church, and local schools, and he conducted many educational workshops over the years throughout Nebraska and Minnesota. His hobbies included video work, making stained glass windows and lamps, doing Norwegian stitchery, and woodworking. Paul is survived by his wife, Sandra (Olson) Sorlien ’61; son, Kirk Sorlien (Brenda); daughter, Cindy Sorlien; four grandchildren; four sisters: Naomi (Sorlien) Jasmer ’47, Grace (Sorlien) Johnson ’52 (Norbert), Ruth (Sorlien) Larson ’55, and Lois Fossen; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, John Sorlien ’43; and a sister, Eunice (Sorlien) Chomicz ’63.